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Campaigners submit 1 million petition signatures to No 10 calling for UK fur sales ban

Lauretta Roberts
20 April 2021

Fox-masked animal rights campaigners submitted 1 million petition signatures to No 10 today calling for a ban on fur sales in the UK.

The CEOs and directors from five of the UK’s largest animal protection organisations, Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the RSPCA, joined the campaigners to present the #FurFreeBritain petition, along with celebrity supporter Chris Packham, who also produced a supporting video.

The 1 million petition signatures, from supporters all over the world, were submitted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson together with a letter from Queen guitarist Brian May, which reads that the UK has “the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards, and close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade”.

The joint letter was co-signed by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal Aid, The Jane Goodall Institute, Viva!, and Brian May’s Save Me Trust. Petition platform Care2 also supported the petition, as did with a personal petition by TOWIE star Pete Wicks. A government e-petition also added 109,533 signatures to the total.

In the letter May said: "Fur farming was banned in this country almost twenty years ago, we showed great leadership on animal welfare then and now we have the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards again, by closing our border to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade. I urge you, Prime Minister, to take decisive action now and make Britain fur-free!"

Claire Bass, Executive Director for Humane Society International/UK (HSI/UK), said: “Fur farming is rightly banned here, but we’re still importing the same cruelty from overseas. The government has the opportunity to end that double standard and our million signature petition today shows that there is enormous public support for a fur trade ban. The British public, along with politicians, designers, celebrities and retailers are in agreement that incarcerating and killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, the future of fashion is fur free.”

According to HSI/UK, the majority of British people support the proposed fur sales ban. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll commissioned by HSI/UK shows that 93% of the British public do not wear real animal fur, and the words 79% of people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are "unethical", "outdated", "cruel" and "out of touch".

Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that: “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the [Brexit] transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do.”  The campaign has also received cross party political support from 140 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 267 against real fur imports.

Many major designers and fashion brands have sworn off the use of fur and exotic skins in recent years including Gucci, Chanel, Versace, Tom Ford, Burberry, Michael Kors and many more, and fur farming bans have been increasing worldwide.

Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, the French government is currently debating a ban on mink fur farming, and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.

Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 12 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, has also added weight to have the practice banned.

No country has banned fur sales outright (though some fur sales such as endangered species, seal skin and domestic dog and cat fur are banned in the UK and elsewhere), this too is a movement gaining traction, particularly in the US, where local bans are in place.

In the US, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals, while bill introduced in Washington state would ban the production of fur.

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